We all know that it is important to keep your baby safe from his/her first winters, first heat waves, keep the surroundings clean, focus on hygiene, ensure that they are properly fed and get the required nutrition. As mothers, we are extra cautious about everything with our own baby. But do we understand from very early on the role which the baby’s gut plays in his/her overall development? Do we also know that it is equally or more important to let the baby’s gut develop properly in his/her first few days? Well, even I was not aware of this very important fact until my nephew was born.
Since he was born, my nephew faced a lot of issues with growth and development. He was extremely weak and was prone to illness from very early on. Seeing how much he suffered, we decided to discuss with his pediatrician about what all can be done to develop his immunity and strengthen his health. We were of course told about not to keep the baby too cold or too hot, starving, awake, among other things. In spite of taking care of everything he was still falling sick again and again. No matter what precaution was taken to ensure he did not fall sick again, his health kept deteriorating. We consulted his pediatrician multiple times, trying to understand what measures we can take at our end to ensure his health gets better.
My cousin was extremely broken and hassled by the ordeal she had to see her baby go through. She spoke to multiple peers, near and dear ones to understand their opinions on what she as a mother can do. Finally after suggestion from a friend, she consulted a pediatrician who was well known among new moms who had experienced similar situations. It was then she got answers which could help her. The pediatrician explained to her what gut is, and its role in strengthening an infant’s immunity.
A baby’s immune system is immature at the time of birth and gradually develops with the right kind of nutrition and other environmental factors. We were told that a baby’s immunity system is correlated to the baby’s gut. About 70-80% of immune cells are present in the gut. Therefore, a balanced gut ensures a strong immune system. It is important that good gut health is maintained from an early age to ensure stronger immunity so that the baby catches less infection, leading to better, uninterrupted growth.
So our next question was: How to ensure a healthy gut?
The pediatrician told us that the good bacteria present in our gut system ensure a healthy gut, by eliminating the harmful bacteria before they can cause any critical damage. Human breast milk is the best source which can supply the baby with optimum nutrition and components which enhance the growth of good bacteria in the gut.
A mother’s breast milk contains a component called ‘prebiotics’. Now we all have heard of probiotics but have not heard about prebiotics ever.
What are prebiotics?
Based on what the pediatrician mentioned, prebiotic oligosachharides are a component which is naturally present in a mother’s breast milk. These are beneficial for the baby’s immune system because they act like food for good bacteria and work best to strengthen the baby’s gut system.
As mothers, it is our duty to ensure that our baby’s health is in good condition. Immunity from an early age is what ensures our babies’ long term health. And we should work towards trying to build it. Speaking to this pediatrician was truly eye-opening. Prebiotics are extremely crucial for a growing baby’s immunity, and we mothers have to be aware about its importance.